Monday, September 8, 2008

Seeking peace

The Officers' Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai is one of the premier institutions training both gentlemen and lady cadets to be inducted as Officers in the Indian Army. When it was set up in 1962, the Officers' Training School was charged with training cadets recruited under the 'Emergency Commission', necessitated by the Chinese aggression. Since then, it has trained over 20,000 officers of the Indian Army, and also a few from other countries. Because of its origin as a School for the Emergency Commission recruits, there was an air of temporary-ness around it until 1985, when it was conferred the status of a permanent establishment. In 1988, with the change of its name from OTS to OTA, it was accorded level-pegging status with the Indian Military Academy (at Dehradun) and the National Defence Academy (at Khadakvasla). Today, it trains cadets selected under the Short Service Commission and under the Women Special Entry Scheme (Officers).

Located inside a 650 acre estate, the OTA seems far away from the city, even though it is very much within the limits of the Chennai urban agglomeration. In any case, anything that is off Mount Road has always been considered as being part of the city, so the OTA has been very much a part of Chennai since it was set up. On Sundays, the cadets would head to the shopping arcades and movie halls, in small groups. It used to be very easy to identify them as OTA cadets; grey trousers, black shoes shined to reflect the sky, the crew cuts and the red-and-bluish-grey-and-black striped ties. It seemed unfair that the cadets had to be in their uniforms even on a Sunday movie trip; but none of them seemed to mind it at all. I'm not sure if the rules have been relaxed now, but I have not seen the Sunday uniforms for a while now. Maybe they're less stiff these days.

One of the best features of the OTA campus is the statue in the lounge area of the Cadets' Mess; even with this poor photo, it is possible to identify The Buddha from his posture. At first look, it seemed incongruous, but as one of the officers at the Academy told me, no one desires peace as much as army personnel do - only that they have to be prepared to kill or die for it, if need be!


6 comments:

D.C. Confidential said...
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D.C. Confidential said...

On the one hand, I'm grateful there are men and women in each of our countries who are willing to die for us. On the other hand, I wish we, as citizens of the world, were more willing to embrace peace at home and abroad. I guess as long as there are people in the world who think something someone else has should be theirs, we'll need armies, navies, and air forces.

Hilda said...

Your last sentence almost made me cry. It's so sad and so true.

And I feel really bad for the armed forces and police of the Philippines — they're actually some of the lowest paid public servants we have and yet they put their lives on the line for us almost every day. Usually, they don't even have the equipment or protection they need.

Sometimes I don't, sometimes I do said...

>> DC>> Which is why weapons are always for protection, never for aggression. :(

>> Hilda>> That's the way it is in many places, unfortunately. Too much spent on policing and not enough on the police.

moochhi said...

first time i have seen a photo of the inside of the academy. good show.

Shantaram said...

>> Moochi>> They were pretty okay with that... have a few more photos from inside the Mess...